Focus on Customers

Stephen Johnston writes:

s people insulate themselves from marketing messages and are influenced more by what their friends say than what expensively produced marketing materials say, the trick for companies to shift their wares is to convert current customers into their evangelists. All very Cluetrain 101. However, what strikes me odd as how badly companies manage their current customers, preferring instead to focus on non customers.

Advertising for new customers is not as effective (depending on product, geography yadayada) as it was, but the simple key proposition to is to manage and delight the current customers. However, the current tools that we’ve got for companies to manage them are pretty minimal. In particular those tools that allow customers to interact with brands using their mobile.

Motion Capture Technology

Business Week writes:

Motion capture is starting to transform how businesses market their products as well as design and manufacture them. This spring the Las Vegas McCarren International Airport will set up large plasma screens with a motion- tracking component that lets advertisers bring pedestrians into their commercials. When you walk past a car ad, for example, the vehicle might move at the same speed you’re walking. When you turn to look at the driver, he’ll turn to look at you, and you’ll be staring into an image of your own face. Dozens of blue-chip aerospace, auto, and heavy-equipment makers, from Lockheed Martin to BMW to Caterpillar already use motion tracking to let workers collaborate in shared virtual environments, sometimes when they are thousands of miles apart. Together they can test the ergonomics of a design for a car or a plane. “Any company that creates a product used by people needs to understand how the human body moves,” says Iek van Cruyningen, head of securities at Libertas Capital Group, a specialist investment bank. “Motion-tracking systems and virtual simulations accelerate product development and boost productivity.”

US Univs Coming to India

The New York Times writes:

Among Indians ages 18 to 24, only 7 percent enter a university, according to the National Knowledge Commission, which advises the prime ministers office on higher education. To roughly double that percentage effectively bringing it up to par with the rest of Asia the commission recommends the creation of 1,500 colleges and universities over the next several years. Indias public universities are often woefully underfinanced and strike-prone.

Indians are already voting with their feet: the commission estimates that 160,000 Indians are studying abroad, spending an estimated $4 billion a year. Indians and Chinese make up the largest number of foreign students in the United States.

Mobile Money

Smart Mobs writes:

The Guardian reports “in what is being touted as a world first, Kenya’s biggest mobile operator is allowing subscribers to send cash to other phone users by SMS.Known as M-Pesa,or mobile money,the service is expected to revolutionise banking in a country where more than 80% of people are excluded from the formal financial sector.Apart from transferring cash – a service much in demand among urban Kenyans supporting relatives in rural areas – customers of the Safaricom network will be able to keep up to 50,000 shillings (370) in a “virtual account” on their handsets”.Further,”M-Pesa’s is simple.There is no need for a new handset or SIM card.

TECH TALK: India’s Challenges: Business Week

India featured on the cover of a recent issue of Business Week. This is what Business Week had to say:

[India’s] economic boom is being built on the shakiest of foundations. Highways, modern bridges, world-class airports, reliable power, and clean water are in desperately short supply. And what’s already there is literally crumbling under the weight of progress…The infrastructure deficit is so critical that it could prevent India from achieving the prosperity that finally seems to be within its grasp. Without reliable power and water and a modern transportation network, the chasm between India’s moneyed elite and its 800 million poor will continue to widen, potentially destabilizing the country.

Blame it partly on India’s revolving-door democracy. Political parties typically hold power for just one five-year term before disgruntled voters, swayed by populist promises from the opposition, kick them out of office. In elections last year in the state of Tamil Nadu, for instance, a new government was voted in after it pledged to give free color TVs to poor families…Then there’s “leakage”India’s euphemism for rampant corruption. Nearly all sectors of officialdom are riddled with graft, from neighborhood cops to district bureaucrats to state ministers. Indian truckers pay about $5 billion a year in bribes, according to the watchdog group Transparency International. Corruption delays infrastructure projects and raises costs for those that move ahead.

[Prime Minister Manomohan] Singh, in fact, is promising a Marshall Plan-scale effort. The government estimates public and private organizations will chip in $330 billion to $500 billion over the next five years for highways, power generation, ports, and airports. In addition, leading conglomerates have pledged to overhaul the retailing sector. That will require infrastructure upgrades along the entire food distribution chain, from farm fields to store shelves.

Unless the nation shakes off its legacy of bureaucracy, politics, and corruption, its ability to build adequate infrastructure will remain in doubt. So will its economic destiny.

There’s more to read and ponder over.

Tomorrow: Fortune

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